1764 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Sir Richard Blackmore

Anonymous, in Anecdotes of Literature (1764) 2:90-91.



Blackmore wrote not less than six epic poems, Prince Arthur, King Arthur, Eliza, Alfred, the Redeemer, and Job; besides these, he composed the whole book of Psalms, the Creation, Nature of Man, and many more, all void of any poetic fire, languid, prosaic, and almost buried in oblivion. The Creation was the best poem he wrote, but Addison has praised it far more than it deserves. He says [Spectator 339], that the depths of philosophy are there, enlivened with all the charms of poetry; but it would puzzle the most penetrating critic to discover any charms of poetry in so tedious a poem. Dr. Drake satirized him with great poignancy in the following lines:

By nature form'd, by want a pedant made,
Blackmore at first set up the whipping trade;
Next quack commenc'd: then fierce with pride he swore,
That tooth-ach, gout, and corns should be no more.
In vain his drugs as well as birch he tried;
His boys grew blockheads, and his patients died.

Blackmore was weak enough to abuse Pope, and by that means procured himself a place amongst his respectable brethren in the Dunciad.